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Emotional Well-Being vs Academic Excellence

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Emotional Well-Being vs Academic Excellence

Which is more important, emotional well-being or academic excellence? Which do you value more? How can you strike the balance between health and success? These are all complicated questions. Every family and even child is different. Here are some practical guidelines for assessing your needs and ensuring that you maintain emotional health.

It is stressful being a teen. Just by definition, before we even consider other factors, it is just plain hard being a teenager. Hormones, social issues, acne, changing bodies, moodiness, teachers, parents, sports, homework…it’s a lot. Now, let’s add SAT’s and ACT’s and college applications, AP classes, pressure to get good grades…it can be enough to send some kids off the deep end. Here is where it is important to know yourself.

Some kids thrive on stress, and actually perform better when under some amount stress. These kids are largely self-motivated and tend to put the pressure on themselves. They push themselves to take difficult classes and have ambitious goals. As long as it is coming from them and they seem to be able to handle it, there is no problem here.

Most kids desire to go to college. And most of them will attain that goal, one way or another. There are a lot of different colleges here in the United States, and a lot of paths to lead you there. Not everyone is cut out to start in a 4 year university. Not everyone can handle the stress and anxiety of the SAT or ACT. Some kids are ready to leave home and are very independent. Some kids benefit from staying close to home and attending junior college first.

This all sounds like common sense, right? But, really, it is not so easy. We all want to succeed, and we all have our own ideas of what that looks like. It is easy to get all wrapped up in appearances and prestige and competitiveness to the point that we fail in unimaginable ways. This idea that Tommy needs to do better than Joey, or that Cindy go to a better school than Sophia is ridiculous. Why not just accept and support each other along each child’s own unique path?

Success does not come from attaining certain grades, or even attending a certain university. Success is more about the individual, their traits, qualities and characters. As a matter of fact, recent studies show that employers are less interested in GPAs and where you attended school. They are looking at your character, civic duties and employment commitments. They want to hire a good person, not a good resume. What is being called “21st Century Skills” has replaced formerly popular notions of pathways to success. These skills entail creativity, collaboration, communication, social skills, media and technology literacy.

A financial expert once asked “Does anyone ever ask their doctor, attorney, teacher or pastor where they went to school or what grades they made?” The answer is “No”. You will carve our a successful future for yourself by your work ethic and people skills over anything else.

Lori Freson Lori Freson is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist in Southern California. She has been working in the mental health field since 1997, and has been a licensed therapist since 2002. Lori currently works in her own thriving private practice in Encino and Sherman Oaks, where she serves the San Fernando Valley and Los Angeles areas.
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